Are todo lists ruining our lives?

Back when I was an employee — now freelance-ish — compiling to do lists was a farce. No matter how these were organised nothing ever got crossed off because Peter Principle line manager would constantly interrupt.

These days I do not have either to do lists or bucket lists. The Reminders app I do use but only for medical activities — taking medication or doing exercises or as right now to put an ice pack and topical analgesic on my damaged knee. Also use the Calendar app for customer and medical appointments, and sporting events.

There is a great feeling of complete freedom from not having to do lists being tyranical.


Now there’s an idea! Must make a note to get some AirTags.

The majority of my work is self directed with maybe 5-10% of my time spent working on requests from coworkers. My work life is organized in Org-mode since I’m a sysadmin and have been using it for years to keep myself on track with things I need to research, tasks to complete, and the occasional meeting. To a large degree Org-mode (and emacs in general) allows one to create a custom software tool.

Tasks related to my personal life are now all kept in Reminders lists and the majority of those are chores that need to be done regularly and shopping lists. There are some lists for projects I’d like to get around to eventually, but I don’t feel constrained by those lists in any way.

As @Bill_Aus mentions, process is key. I’ve used the same task management process that’s been refined over the past 15+ years to do the things I want or need to do. It’s dead simple and I’ve used that same process with Org-mode, index cards, pocket notebooks, Remember the Milk, Todoist, Things, and Reminders with no need to modify it for a specific app and everything seems to get done.

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